13 April 2009

Early wake-up

So as Mark has already mentioned, Friday was amazing - it was an early, long gray ride down to Heathrow, but Miller recognizing us and seeing that face and the wagging tail - totally worth it. Especially since Mark drove the whole way back, so I could pass out in the front seat.

We got home and took Miller out to Sefton Park where he was able to fetch one of his new toys and smell all the new England smells, and then returned home to have some Jamaican Me Hungry jerk chicken and watch TV with Miller at our feet. All in all, a great but exhausting day. We briefly discussed the merits of Miller joining us upstairs to sleep, or whether we should try to crate him to get him used to being away from us (the separation anxiety is still a little cute, but we probably shouldn't encourage it)... The decision made, we bade him good night and crept quietly upstairs.

We all fell asleep in moments, which is why it was so disconcerting to be woken up with a loud car alarm in the middle of the night. I lay awake in bed, my eyes squeezed shut, counting on its owner to come out and turn the alarm off. It paused briefly, but began again and I thought to myself - shit! I have no idea what our car alarm sounds like! - so scrambled out of bed and pushed the shade, glowing a soft orange, aside. I stared in disbelief, then reached back to the nightstand to put on my glasses.

What I saw was this (but imagine that it's darker, and thus more ominous):
"Mark, Mark! Wake up! The car's on fire!" 
(admittedly, a little ambiguous, but I was sleepy)


"Mark, I'm serious! Wake up!!"

"Shut up."

"MARK, I AM STARING AT FLAMES OUTSIDE. There is a car on fire, we've got to move our car! We need to call the fire department!"

At this point, Mark started cursing and joined me at the window. When he saw the 10 foot flames climb higher, he jumped into action. I started throwing jeans on and ran downstairs. I picked up the phone and tried to remember the emergency number we'd seen posted in London (they don't have 911 here) while Mark scrambled down the stairs looking for the car keys.

I called 999 and watched as Mark ducked into the car. At this point, the fire had moved from the back of the pickup toward the cab of the truck, and we both worried about the gas tank exploding. Unfortunately, our street is very narrow and at night there are cars parked on both sides. We always turn our car around when we park (for an easy exit the next day) but that forced Mark to drive slowly (and closely!) by the burning truck in order to move the car far away. I watched as a horn began honking (I thought it was Mark freaking out, but the extreme heat and the alarm on the truck caused the honking sound).

Suddenly, I remembered I was on the phone. I heard a woman's voice repeating itself:

"Miss, ambulance or police?"

I tried to explain that there was a fire but she just kept repeating her question. I finally took a stab: "Police, please" and again tried to explain where we were located but found that I was speaking to no one - I was being transferred. I explained myself to the police woman who answered the call but she said we needed fire. I told her our address and she hung up to contact the fire department.

At this point, Mark ran back into the house and said we needed to get out. We took Miller out of the crate and I put on the first shoes I could find. As we ran out of the house, we could hear small explosions (at the time, I thought fuel, but in retrospect I think it was the windows exploding from the heat) and ran to the end of the street. I looked up and could see a fire engine struggling to pull down our street (it only made it part way) and the firemen running to the fire.

After another five minutes or so, a young man in a leather jacket ran out of the house three doors down from us and toward the fire. A woman in a bathrobe came out of her house at the end of the street and chatted with us briefly before returning to the house. I think she made fun of us for evacuating our house, but Mark could verify.

It turns out that the truck belongs to the young guy, our neighbor. He seemed OK about it (as OK as you can be at 5AM on a Sat morning upon discovering your car is ablaze) so Mark is thinking insurance scam. I think it's a cigarette butt, or possibly some of the kids down our street who are out all hours of the night, playing ball where it is clearly marked "Polite Notice, No Ball Playing." The saddest part is that the next day, we peered into the back of the truck and it was full of Easter chocolate, now charred and inedible. 

Also, guess who joined us in the bedroom at 530AM? And has been sleeping with us ever since?


  1. Right? And who needs Photoshop when you've got Paint?!

  2. holy crap! I would've evacuated too!